Jolla Founds Alliance Based On MeeGo Distribution "Sailfish"
Having owned two N900s until both died, I agree with you on the most part. After I switched over to a SG3, I would say the newest version of Android is pretty solid. Now granted it is still not a dev machine, but the browser is bang on now, even as it has a desktop view mode. The accuracy of the capacitive screen is still lacking but tolerable.
As much as I hate to say it, the N900 was an experiment. As a consumer product, it failed based on sales miserably. But it brought out interesting results. The die hard fans love it and STILL love it, if you see the supporting community at maemo.org. I would still be using it if the microusb port was still functional and a reflash didn't kill the emmc.
Oh and as a tribute to the physical keyboard, you can see my franken-mod for the SG3.
The Nation Is Losing Its Toolbox
You're probably speaking to the wrong crowd here if you think people are against progress, increased efficiency and automation on slashdot. But I get what you mean. I wouldn't extend the argument to the extreme and compare using my time to my wage when it's a hobby. But here's where I will segue into my argument.
My perspective on the decline of DIY is more rooted in the decay of informed choice when purchasing products. Given your average slashdotter, if some electronic device breaks out of warranty, chances are good that they'll pry it open to take a peak. With some basic knowledge of wires (and a sliding scale of electronic familiarity), you might be able to diagnose whether it's reparable or not. Maybe. But at least there's a curiosity in whether something is fixable before just tossing the product out. These days, I would argue the average non-slashdotter would probably just pitch it without even considering the debate on whether it's worth the person's time to investigate and fix the product. It's that curiosity and trouble-shooting drive that is being lost. Without asking that question, you lose the ability to make an informed choice before actually determining whether something should be fixed or replaced.
This can be extended to clothing. My girlfriend loves making new clothing from material and (to a lesser extent) repairing clothing that she likes.
So I agree that the DIY knowledge is useful but not profitable. However, it's the initiative to even consider DIY that is being lost and I think the repercussions are far worse for our society in general rather than it being considered a waste of free time.
White House Wants New Copyright Law Crackdown
While you have made some valid points on the evolution of options since the inception of digital distribution, I don’t think you should bite into any virtuous piracy “cause”. At the end of the day it’s come down to real world choices. How much is this service/product worth to me? In the western countries, we’ve become accustomed to just paying the sticker price for products or not buying it at all. In many parts of the world, people bargain for the products they want to buy. Think of how successful ebay, craigslist and other sites are nowadays.
My point related to piracy is that it will always exist in one form or another. The benefit from the public’s standpoint is that now there is leverage from the public to drive down prices (sort of bargaining if you will). The producers will have to carefully ask themselves, “How much will people be willing to pay for this service/product of this quality and convenience?” rather than, “How much can I charge and get away with it?”.
Of course, central assumptions I have are that:
1) People are generally willing to do the right thing.
2) Some people will pirate material whether they like it or not.
Nation-Wide Internet Censorship Proposed For Australia
So people have touched upon censorship, but in the big picture, is this a future trend? China's current implementation of the Great Firewall and now this? This may have a larger impact than most people think and I'm not big on fear mongering. Reduction of the access and free exchange of information breaks down the fundamental usefulness of the internet and if greater organizations (I say organizations because even if a country doesn't do it, but ISP monopolies worldwide do, the results are similar) continue down this path the internet will devolve into something resembling television: a passive experience with controlled and filtered inputs and outputs.
Last tin-foil hat thought: The reason I'm concerned about this is that I've been confident that these attempts to censor or filter the internet in the past were futile because, like water confronting a rock in its path, the information will flow around the damage. But if things go the way of "1984", the general public just won't know of any better if they are brought up in a filtered environment and what they're missing. I'm straining my memory, but I believe in Orwell's book, they removed terms to describe dissent or hatefulness so that people would be unable to express their dissatisfaction. AOL users thought that their world WAS, in fact, the internet until they changed ISPs.
Alright I'm digressing. If I lived in Australia, I would fight tooth and nail against this. To redirect the "Think of the Children" play, even if they are not subject to illegal or lewd material early on, it's still out there. A more reasonable action would be educating in school safe surfing of the web, how to determine reliable and unreliable sources and proper teaching of ethics in a more subjective and technologically advanced world. My last example is this: Would you rather have teach someone walking down the street why its important not to break into someone's house or line the doors and windows with spikes and barbwire? Think of the children!!!!
/rant over. I'm getting some coffee.